E3 2017 Preview | Bionik Accessories to Power Up Console Gaming
E3’s main highlight is the games, but many companies show up to debut new hardware, too. Though we generally remember the cheap, off-brand controllers we used years ago, third-party hardware’s come a long way. Bionik focuses on hardware to optimize console gaming experiences, creating hardware for both casual and dedicated gamers. I spoke with Head of Marketing Crystal Dugan to learn more about Bionik’s products on the show floor.
We started off by looking at the Mantis VR, headphones specifically crafted to fit over the top of Playstation VR. “…[Playstation VR]’s hard to wear over your headset because it feels like this vice over your head,” Crystal said. “So what we’ve done is created headphones specifically for Playstation VR.” The Mantis VR fits directly on the Playstation VR headset, with a design and color scheme that matches well. It comes with interchangable on-ear and over-ear style earcups so players can choose full immersion or to keep an ear on the physical world. With a minimal amount of on-ear pressure, Dugan says she is able to wear them for longer sessions than most on-ear headphones. At $49.99, this comes in around the cost of an entry-level headset.
The next item she showed me was the Quickshot, a mod kit for first-party Xbox One controllers. Many competitive FPS players use controllers with trigger locks, which cuts the distance needed to register a button press on a trigger. The Xbox One Elite controller offers those upgrades and more, but at a $150 price point. Bionik’s Quickshot mod kit offers a similar experience at $19.99, including the trigger locks and textured grips. To install them, you simply pop out the old sides with an included tool and snap the new grips into place. “We’ve had a lot of people on Amazon says that it’s a better trigger lock system, that it’s a shorter distance (than the Xbox One Elite),” Dugan added. Though the Mantis VR and Quickshot triggers cater to more “hardcore” gamers, Bionik’s Nintendo Switch products target consumers of all kinds.
Nintendo’s newest console’s refused to stay on store shelves, particularly with the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That doesn’t mean the console’s without flaws; players have complained about battery life and a lack of a wired internet connection. Bionik tackles these problems with the Power Plate Duo and the Giganet Ethernet Adapter. The Power Plate functions as a backup battery for the Switch, and is one of the Bionik products Crystal uses most since she travels so often for work. The battery functions as a docking slot for the Joy-Con controllers, so players can snap them in place and play while charging. It also comes with an USB-C adapter to power the Switch directly, providing enough juice to fully recharge a dead system. It sells for $49.99, with the option of getting a second battery in the Power Plate Duo package for $69.99.
The Giganet Ethernet Adapter, in the meantime, creates a stronger internet connection for the Switch. It essentially creates a powerful, short-range wireless connection, taking advantage of faster internet speeds than most wireless connections. And for those who’ve heard horror stories of Switches bending while docked, the Giganet adapter also comes with grates to improve air flow. “It’s a faster, more secure connection,” Crystal said as we looked at it. “We tested on wireless, and then we tested it on this: so much faster. It’s almost three times faster.” At $24.99, it’s a cheap upgrade for those looking to prepare for Splatoon 2 or want a better connection for ARMS.
Bionik tackles a number of issues with their hardware, but focuses on making their solutions durable, attractive, and cost-effective. Though they have more products on the way, they already seem to be filling holes in the industry. Though the QuickShot is already available on the Bionik website, players will have to wait a little longer for the Mantis VR, Power Plate, and Giganet adapter. If their products fill the needs in the market like the claim, then Bionik should have a space on store shelves for quite some time.